Dina Wadia no right to claim over Jinnah House : Govt

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Mumbai, Oct 4 (UNI) The government today contended that the ownership of ''Jinnah house'', a palatial bungalow in the posh Malabar Hill of South Mumbai, vested with it and Dina Wadia, the only daughter of the late founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah, had no right to claim the property.

''We respect various sentiments attached to Jinnah House but can not yield to each of them and in this spirit the idea to convert the property, once owned and occupied by Jinnah, into the South Asian Centre for Art and Culture, while preserving it as a heritage structure, has been adopted.

Dina Wadia, wife of the textile magnate Neville Wadia, had moved the High Court claiming right over the property, saying that emotional values were attached with the house and she wanted to spend her last days in the house.

In reply to Wadia's petition, Deputy secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, G Subramanian today filed an affidavit.

In the affidavit, the government has raised primary objection to the petition saying that the same petitioner had filed a petition for same rights in 1994 and it was withdrawn with liberty to approach an appropriate civil court. Instead of approaching civil court, the petitioner has again moved high court, which was not permissible in law and on that basis maintainability of the petition was challenged.

Another primary objection raised issue of time bar, saying that the petition has been filed more than fifty years after the property was vested in the Union Government. In this regard, the affidavit says that the property vested absolutely in the government on June 10, 1955.

While countering Wadia's claim on merit, the government has taken basis of Late Mohammad Ali Jinnah's will made in May 1939 - under which he had bequeathed the Jinnah House to his sister Fatima Jinnah. But, since at the time of partition Fatima Jinnah migrated to Pakistan and she became an evacuee, the property was taken over by the Government. It has been contended in the affidavit that, Dina Wadia was neither an evacuee or legal heir of Late Fatima Jinnah and she can not claim the Jinnah House as she was neither Fatima Jinnah's legal heir nor an evacuee.

Meanwhile, a lawyer Firoz Ahamad Ansari has filed an intervention application in the matter taking strong execption to Dina Wadia's claim, saying that she has renounced her Indian citizenship as late as in 1960s and had shown allegiance to British by holding British passport and is presently residing in the United States.


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